American sheep breeders could be only months away from importing Lincoln Longwool semen from the UK.
Following the lifting of a six-year ban on the trading of ovine genetics from the UK into the United States more than two years ago, the process is being led by the Livestock Conservancy, an equivalent to the Rare Breed Survival Trust (RBST) in the US.
The organisation’s chairman, Brian Larson, along with six sheep breeders in the US with a vested interest in the breed and the use of UK Lincoln Longwool genetics within their own flocks, are hopeful that lambs could be on the ground by spring next year.
Speaking at the Lincolnshire show last week, Mr Larson explained: “We are very passionate about getting our breed back to where it should be in the US, which has become more extreme in recent years towards what the show ring has demanded.”
The US breeders are particularly interested in the way Lincoln Longwool’s in the UK have been bred for the growth of its widely recognised fleece.
Mr Larson added: “One of the main things we have lost in the US is the wool quality. The Lincoln’s fleece is unique and lustrous, and its strong and durable fibre lends itself well to a growing specialist fibre industry in the US.
“The group is very much of the understanding that profit is not a driver behind this exercise, but all have the goal of improving the breed’s genetic diversity to secure its success for years to come.”
Four rams have now been selected by the group from breeders in Lincolnshire.
They are in isolation and on the assumption the animals pass the required health testing, it is hoped semen collection can begin in August, and be exported from the end of September.